CARLISLE TWP. — The best runners in the Patriot Athletic Conference are rivals…but they support each other as best they can.
When Keystone junior Shannon Wargo broke away from Lutheran West junior Michaela Bierly 500 meters into the third mile at the 2014 Keystone Icebreaker cross country meet at the Lorain County Metroparks Equestrian Center, the voice she heard prodding her along was the girl she was breaking away from.
Wargo and Bierly started the third mile shoulder-to-shoulder, but it didn’t take long for Wargo to make her move. She ended up winning the event, her fourth career win, with a time of 21:11.95. Bierly placed second at 21:23.94.
“In the first race of the season no one is in their best condition,” Wargo said. “I broke before we were halfway into the third mile, and when I broke she yelled, ‘Go Shannon, you got this.’ That was really nice. She’s a great runner and it’s great to have someone like her in this conference to really push me like that.”
Wargo finished second to Cloverleaf senior Ashley Murray in last year’s Icebreaker, with Bierly finishing third. In the Patriot Athletic Conference meet two years ago, Wargo finished first and Beirly second. Last year Beirly won the PAC meet while Wargo finished second.
Like Wargo, Bierly is thankful to have an in-conference rival that pushes her.
“I would rather compete with her when she’s at her best and I’m at my best,” she said. “That’s the best kind of competition in my opinion. It’s great to have someone like her in our conference so you aren’t running by yourself all the time.”
In the boys race, Buckeye junior Colin Theis pulled away from Firelands’ Brennen Crawford late in the race to pick up his first win of the season, posting a 16:46.11 in the five-kilometer course. Crawford clocked a 17:00.47.
“This was a tough field with a lot of strong runners,” Theis said. “All the good runners have been racing against each other for years, and we’re all good friends that know how to race each other. We know how to push each other almost to the breaking point.”
Things went precisely according to Theis’ plan.
“I had a plan to stick on him for the first mile or so,” he said. “You win the race in the last half of the race, and that’s what I did.”
Crawford, a senior, admitted he had a hard time with the last mile of the race.
“The hardest part is the last mile. That’s when my endurance falls off. We had good pacing in the first couple of miles, but he was able to pull away at the end. He’s a great runner.”
Black River senior Tanner Hawley pulled double-duty Tuesday. He played a match for the Pirates’ golf team earlier in the day before heading to the Equestrian Center for the cross country race.
Hawley finished fourth with a time of 17:32.29.
“It takes a lot of energy,” Hawley said of playing golf before running cross country. “People think it doesn’t, but it does.”
Hawley got to the Equestrian Center five minutes before the starter’s pistol sounded.
“We were cruising to get here,” he said. “I didn’t have time to warm up or anything. It was hot out there so I warmed up in a hurry. I won’t have to do this again, thank goodness.”
Contact Mike Perry at 329-7135 or email@example.com.
Team standings: Cloverleaf 36, Keystone 79, Lutheran West 81, Buckeye 89, Black River 130, Firelands 139, Fairview 152, Brookside 207.
Individual standings: Shannon Wargo (Keystone) 21:11.95, Michaela Bierly (Lutheran West) 21:23.94, Riley Freeland (Cloverleaf) 22:11.35, Anna Winnicki (Cloverleaf) 22:22.54, Vanessa Rivera (Cloverleaf) 22:44.51, Tori Hritsko (Firelands) 22:48.26; Jena Copley (Keystone) 22:50.51; Adriana Jeziorski (Cloverleaf) 22:54.24, Megan Demagall (Buckeye) 22:54.72, Leslie Peterson (Firelands) 22:55.25.
Team standings: Firelands 48, Buckeye 52, Fairview 66, Cloverleaf 100, Black River 171, Brookside 182, Open Door 188, Lutheran West 223, Clearview 244, Keystone 251, Wellington 259.
Individual standings: Colin Theis (Buckeye) 16:46.11, Brennen Crawford (Firelands) 17:00.47, Creighton Jensen (Brookside) 17:17.83, Tanner Hawley (Black River) 17:32.29, Aidan Gallagher (Buckeye) 17:39.44, Cullen Grude (Firelands) 18:18.33, Darren Egner (Cloverleaf) 18:30.60, Simon Perales (Oberlin) 18:36.84, Matt Shook (Buckeye) 18:42.66, Derek Reynolds (Firelands) 18:46.44.